The Instigator
Kierkegaard
Pro (for)
Winning
43 Points
The Contender
Amos
Con (against)
Losing
39 Points

The best musical instrument is the piano.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2007 Category: Arts
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 18,262 times Debate No: 1097
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (26)

 

Kierkegaard

Pro

There are many musical instruments, each of them with their particular perks and letdowns, but all of them simply fall short when in comparison to the piano.

I have several reasons as to why this is true.

First, the piano requires not only the most talent (both musical AND physical) but the most effort as well to successfully play it well.

Another reason is that you can do more with the piano than any other instrument. With instruments like the cello, viola, electric guitar, etc, you usually only have one melody line, and sometimes you have two or three. With the piano you have several interchanging melody lines, and to bring each of them out with the correct amount of stress takes a lot more work than to play the other instruments with just one melody line.

Yet another reason is that the piano is simply the bread and butter of music, and everyone in the musical field fully recognizes this. All of the great musicians and composers knew how to play the piano, and to get a Masters or PhD in performance in any musical instrument, you have to play the piano for a short amount of time.

My main argument, however, is that the piano does the best job of conveying general human emotions better than any other instrument by far. No other instrumental pieces could compare with pieces by Debussy or Chopin or Beethoven when it comes to conveying ANY human emotion, whether it be love, happiness, anger, sorrow, etc. You'll notice that most rock bands use vocals, and through the vocals they use words to convey their emotion. In the musical world, that could easily be seen as..."cheating"...when attempting to convey human emotion. It takes real skill to show the emotion of the piece without words rather than with them. The most important human emotions don't use words. When you're truly scared or angry or happy, you're generally not going to think with words what you feel, it's a pure feeling or emotion that'll be coming from your head, and the piano does an almost perfect job of conveying this wordless emotion. When playing the piano, if you're good enough and have a big enough comprehension of the music or piece, then you can truly feel what the composer felt when he/she wrote the piece.

So, in conclusion, the piano is the best instrument because it requires the most talent and effort to successfully play well, you can do more with the piano than any other instrument, the piano is the base of music, and you can convey true emotion with it far better than any other instrument.
Amos

Con

"The best musical instrument is the Piano."
I accept this challenge and thank you for your participation.
My contention is the Human Voice is the best musical instrument.
Now you might argue that the human voice is not an instrument. As evidence in you opening statement that using vocals "could easily be seen as "cheating"".

My contention is that the human voice is an instrument and because it can use "words" and words have meanings that we can, or do, associate with emotions it is the best musical instrument. Even your own statement about "the best job of conveying general emotions" uses words. Words are nothing more than letters, symbols grouped together to formulate a meaning that usually conveys emotions or images in our mind that remind us of our own lives experiences. Here is an example: love -vs- olev. Same letters, different grouping yet most every one would say that the first has much more meaning to them than the second. Some might even have some "emotions" rise up in them, I do, I love my wife and children.

Our whole life is a series of emotions, pain, happiness, love, fear, anger, sorrow. Music is a tool that can and does bring these emotions to our recollection. We also have always used words to help us associate, using symbols, to our emotions.
In my experience when I have been truly scared, angry or happy it is a spiritual feeling, emotion. But I have always turned to words to communicate those I desire to share my feelings with. Now some great ones have turned to music, I would say the greater ones have use rhythm, harmony, cadence, timbre, tone and words to convey these feelings and emotions. Piano can also do this but with words it becomes much more meaningful and effective.

As to your point about playing the piano requires the most talent and effort to play well, (I would like to add PRATICE!) I must agree that it does take talent. But just like any instrument, mastery is the key. I have heard many talent shows where an individual is playing the piano and the emotion I feel is not the one the composer or the performer intended. This is also true of the human voice, if you would like an example I could post a youtube audio of me singing. My point is that practice and mastery is what makes any musical instrument bring the desired emotion to us humans.

In conclusion: The Human Voice is the only instrument that can use words. Words are the greatest tool we have to convey meaning and emotions to each other.
The Human Voice is "The best musical Instrument"

rjb
Debate Round No. 1
Kierkegaard

Pro

Although I could argue that the human voice isn't technically a "musical instrument", for the purposes of this debate I believe it fits the requirements to be one, although for the most part, only in theory.

First I'll respond to the gist of what you said through quotes and then reinforce my other points.

"Even your own statement about 'the best job of conveying general emotions' uses words."

Of course the statement uses words, not only are we communicating through means of the internet, but the majority of communication in the first place involves...words. The phrase 'the best job of conveying general emotions', however, conveys no real emotion or feeling (and even if it did it would be minuscule and unimportant), along with the majority of language. There are very little ways to create actual meaning with words and with language, and even then they fall short of true emotion. The piano transcends the realm of mere words for an outlet for communication and translates it down into the simplest and most elegant form: The pure form of the emotion in the embellished form of PURE music (no words).

"Words are nothing more than letters,"

I completely agree. Words are made up of letters, and how can mere letters fully express the complexity and intermingling of a giant tangle of emotions that often is the human mind? They can't. The only way to truly do this is through the purest form of the emotion or feeling: music. And, since the piano is the best instrument to do such a thing for the reasons I've already stated, the piano would obviously be the best instrument overall, since I don't believe you stated anything against my other arguments.

"Here is an example: love -vs- olev. Same letters, different grouping yet most every one would say that the first has much more meaning to them than the second."

Although the word "love" has more meaning than the jumbled letters "olev", don't you think that's more of a technical thing rather than an...important thing? I get your point, (that letters arranged in a specific order evoke more emotion than letters arranged in a NOT specific order, although I hardly understand what that has to do with the debate at hand), but therein lies a humongous problem with language and words/letters. Building off of what you said, (that "love" means significantly more than "olev") what happens when someone makes...a typo? According to your logic, the meaning of the word would be completely nulled, and would not get across to whoever was listening/reading/etc. With music (referring to PIANO, not vocal), however, it doesn't require absolute perfection to get the oh-so-amazing and important thought or emotion across to the listener. That fact backs up the fact that the piano is the best musical instrument even further when you realize that the player who is learning piece of music x learns it better in the fact that he doesn't require absolute perfection. He can establish a never-ending connection to the emotion and thought process of piece of music x WITH mistakes, and through the connection he can learn the piece faster, easier, more efficiently, and turn out with an overall better result.

"Our whole life is a series of emotions, pain, happiness, love, fear, anger, sorrow. Music is a tool that can and does bring these emotions to our recollection."

I agree utterly and completely. And what better instrument to do this than the piano (as it is the best musical instrument)?

"Now some great ones have turned to music, I would say the greater ones have use rhythm, harmony, cadence, timbre, tone and words to convey these feelings and emotions. Piano can also do this but with words it becomes much more meaningful and effective."

Words in no way make it more meaningful. Music is music. If anything piano makes it more meaningful, as it does not use words in the music, as it would drag the music down. Effective, however, depends on what you're referring to, which I'd love for you to explain what exactly it does more effective. Are you talking about effective to convey the emotion to the viewers (although in most cases there probably wouldn't be any) or the player?

As to your practice and mastery point, excuse me, but..I don't exactly see how that applies to the debate. If you're saying that both piano and the human voice require the same thing (whether that be equal or not), then how does that single out one from each other (Although this hardly matters since piano by far takes the most effort and talent to play, I'd still like to be clear on all of your points.)? (Ahaha, on a side note, I'd just like to add how I hardly ever practice the piano yet I'm one of the best people at it that I know out of sheer talent..)

You attacked my smallest point and my biggest point in your first "speech". Now, I'll reinforce the things in my first bit that you either forgot to respond to or (most likely) couldn't respond to:

The first was that the piano is much more "full" than any other instrument. I didn't go into more depth on this point as I didn't technically know what instrument I would be put up against. I will do that now: With the voice, you're only able to sing one line of music, whether it be the melody, the counter-melody, etc. In some cases you're able to mimic more than one line, but in reality you're really only able to sing...one line. With the piano, however, you're able to play many different lines, all with different balance in between each one another, as well as chords, which is simply impossible with the voice. Also, building off of this point in a much more musical/technical way, with piano music very often it's easier for the listener to even attempt to engage in whatever emotion the piece is attempting to convey. For example, say a singer sang for 8 beats straight, and had no other accompanists along with them. The listener would have absolutely no idea as to what chord or key it was in, and would be baffled for those first two (presumably) measures. With the piano, however, this is an EXTREMELY unlikely occurrence. Take, for example, Beethoven's Pathetique. The first few long beats are held out for a relatively long amount of time, but the listener obviously knows that it's in a minor key, and can focus their attention more on what emotion the piece is trying to convey rather than...whether it's major or minor.

The other point you didn't counter was the fact that piano simply is the bread and butter of the musical world. Like I said before, people who get Masters or PhDs in a performance in music of ANY instrument are required to take piano lessons for at least a short amount of time. If the masters at music recognize that the piano (NOT the voice) is the best and most fundamental yet embellished instrument, then it must be true. For who better to know and understand music then...the experts?

I'd also like to include the fact that generically vocalists require an accompanist whenever they sing or perform. I'd also like to include that that accompanist is usually a piano player, who plays the piano. If an instrument isn't able to successfully stand out on its own, then how could it possible be the best instrument?

So, in conclusion, the piano is the best musical instrument because: it by far does the best job at conveying emotion, it's much more full and "less wimpy" by very very far than any other instrument, it's easier for the listener to discern the emotion that it conveys the best (partially because the listener gets a large head-start and partially because the emotion is simply defined better on the piano than any other instrument), the piano is THE fundamental musical instrument, and that it can sound just as good and convey the emotion just as good whether its accompanied or not, unlike the voice and the majority of other instruments.
Amos

Con

Thank you for your response.
I contend the human voice is the original musical instrument. Not just for this debate and surly not just in theory.

My open remarks will address my opponent's main argument that the piano does the best job of conveying general human emotions better than any other instrument. It was said that words "would drag the music down". This is a simple statement that is incorrect. Evidence shown by most all music in our society no matter the time frame of music you look at. Vocals by far exceed instrumentals in the music we as humans listen to. The reason to me is clear; Music touches the heart and soul of us all, either for good or bad. Music with vocals, words, touches our heart, mind and soul. If music can convey emotions and also make us think, use our brain, how much more effective would a human voice be over a piano that can not convey this type of thought along with emotion?

As far as piano being the bread and butter of music, Vocals would be the meat and potatoes! The modern key system that the piano uses comes from the thirteenth-century modal music (music for three or four voices). As with most everything our technology of the 20th century music has been improved. But the basic has always been human voice. Chant is the first type of music recorded. My personal belief is that music was in the beginning and it was choirs singing praises.
Mosiah 2:28 . . .and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.

The argument that piano can do more than the human voice, well yes the piano can use polyphony type of music, (carry more that one "line of music") where a single voice is monophony. But many voices, as in a choir, can also do the same. (As for this argument it was not stated that it had to be a single individual playing the piano or singing.) With much more emotion using rhythm, harmony, cadence, timbre and tone, where the piano is limited in timbre.

It was stated as the first reason for pro stance that; "the piano requires not only the most talent (both musical AND physical) but the most effort as well to successfully play it well." While in the second round it was stated: "With music (referring to PIANO, not vocal), however, it doesn't require absolute perfection to get the oh-so-amazing and important thought or emotion across to the listener." I contend that the greats not only used the talent that God gave them, but they developed that talent as close to perfection as they could push themselves. Tell me that Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, John Schmidt, David Lanz and many others are not perfectionist! (Side note: You don't know who John Schmidt is?)

But it does take talent and developed talent, practice, to get the desired emotion conveyed though music. Voice also requires and immense amount of talent and training. When you hit a note on the piano and want to sustain that note there is very little chance of the pitch of that note changing. Where as to hold a vocal note and not have it change during a sustained hold, well I could send you and example. The point that the piano is better because it takes more talent and the most effort to play well, and then to say that perfection of that instrument is not necessary to convey emotion is like saying someone is more intelligent because they learn easier, but has not put forth and effort to study, than the person who is a master, because of the sacrifice they have made to learn. My point is this. All music requires mastery. So the argument that the piano requires the most effort is not true nor has any validity that would make it the better instrument.

Vocal music does not require accompanist, as I am listening to piano music I often hear other instruments adding fill to give it a much more full sound. Have you ever listened to some acappella groups? The talent and sound of some of these are just as full and any piano I have ever heard. (side note: You should look up the group "InsideOut" you would love them. They are LDS.)

As to the point of great students of music who take piano as part of their training, I concede. There is no better place to learn about the theory and history of music than a good piano class. But that does not make it the best instrument to convey emotion. It does make it a good place to learn about the art of music, and a great place to understand any instrument you want to master.

In closing, Music is wonderful. I love many different kinds of music. I can find a song to help me get up mentally, excited, relaxed and some to worship with. The piano is a wonderful instrument and I love it dearly, but a statement that it is the over all best instrument, is just too broad of a claim. If you look back to the origin of music and where we are now with music, vocals are just too much to ignore that they are the best musical instrument.

PS
The piano is a percussion instrument! For you who like the triangle and the drums. Also notice my avatar? Come on!
Debate Round No. 2
Kierkegaard

Pro

Kierkegaard forfeited this round.
Amos

Con

Kierkegaard,

Thank you for letting me debate with you. I am sorry that you missed the last round. You might have said all you had to say. Really this debate, for me, was more for fun. A statement that says there is a "best musical instrument" is really like saying that there was just one type of food that is the best. Come on, would you really like to eat just one type of food for the rest of your life? You wouldn't live long anyway!

I am so glad there are many different musical instruments to give us the full and complete menu of music. I can listen to just piano music for hours and love it! But when I want to return to my youth I listen to Lobo, Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette, Sketter Davis! When I feel like dancing I dial up the Doobie Brothers, Boston, Bob Seger, Styx. When I want to I listen to The Alan Parson Project, Bread. . .You get what I am saying. I love full classical music, country music, Rock and Roll and many others. By the way I play the drums! Percussion is my love.

I thank all of you that have posted and made this fun for me.
Here is a url link for those of you who love music
www.pandora.com

Happy listening

rjb / Amos
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Thoreau 9 years ago
Thoreau
griffinisright, did you READ the debate? At ALL? Amos does not say that DRUMS are the most expressive instrument, he says that VOICE is! Come on, you are a perfect example of how the voting on debate.org is flawed! Read the arguments before you vote, or don't vote at all!
Posted by griffinisright 9 years ago
griffinisright
GO AMOS!! I am with you on this one too I play the drums!!! And I believe they are the most challenging to master and the best instrument as well!!! They are the back bone of the music.
Posted by bringtheshred429 9 years ago
bringtheshred429
I would argue that the electric guitar is a much more expressive instrument, and I can testify to the hours upon hours of practice it requires. While this is not unlike the piano, I suggest that the added dimension of expression makes it a much more difficult instrument to play, and a much more difficult instrument to compose on. This, in addition to the technical ability needed, makes the guitar a better instrument in my view.
Posted by Kierkegaard 9 years ago
Kierkegaard
Although understandable that opera would take more physical strength (in general) to correctly perform (and I most definitely applaud at your performing professional opera, I enjoy the majority of opera), there's still differences between the two instruments. Either way, it seems as if my contender wasn't referring to opera singing, although he probably should have.

It definitely is, though. That's for sure.
Posted by JonJon 9 years ago
JonJon
Having sung opera professionally, I can assure you that it's an incredibly physical expression art. Most pianists would never be able to get through standing and singing a 6 hour Wagner opera. And also, the stamina to sing a 90 minute recital of classical music is a lot different than sitting in front of a piano.

It's hard to compare the two. But, many instruments were created to emulate the human voice. Perhaps the inventors of all those wonderful string, wind and brass instruments really knew something!
Posted by GOOFYTU 9 years ago
GOOFYTU
I LOVE THE PIANO:

EXAMPLE:

For those of you who disagree with Kierkegaard go to youtube.com and search Kiss the Rain by Yiruma. Tell me if any emotion comes out of that.

Then compare it to drums. Can you make someone sad with just drums? [no offense drummers]

Then look at the human voice. At times its beautiful, crisp, and new. BUT, most instruments, materially, are based around what the human voice can do.

Sure, the voice projects words, phrases, and rhythms. BUT, once again, musicians all around the world phrase music, drummers give rhythms [and beats], and words are turned into musical notes.

Differences in music itself:

THERE ALL THE SAME.

So there you go. I was really interested and intrigued by this debate since I myself play the piano and cello. So I got a little taste of both sides on this one.

I think the following would be appropriate for this debate:

BRAVO!!!

**applause**

**standing ovation**

**curtain**

Encore?
Posted by Kierkegaard 9 years ago
Kierkegaard
Ah, but Thoreau, that's yet another reason why Regina Spektor is supreme. She often uses the piano to make simple rhythm. And besides, just because people don't do it often doesn't mean that it's not possible OR that some people don't do it. People who do, however, tend to be amazingly good at the piano.

And Rousseau, although I agree with your argument in defending mine, TECHNICALLY the piano can have 10 different melodies or more. Even more reason that the piano is the best instrument.
Posted by Thoreau 9 years ago
Thoreau
L2jperry: See Kierkegaard's arguments.
Posted by Rousseau 9 years ago
Rousseau
Guitar is harder, but the piano is a better musical instrument. The piano is much more complex than a guitar, as it can play two melodies and the guitar can play one. Of course guitar can be the only instrument in a song, but those songs tend to have lyrics that outweigh the guitar in importance. The piano has more songs written specifically for it, and added to its historical importance, it is overall the best. Besides the triangle.
Posted by l2jperry 9 years ago
l2jperry
I would say that the Guitar is arguably just as hard as the piano, and a better instrument :D.
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